Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Julia Belle Swain: FT scenery

SpiritofPeoria-HawkinsAccording to traced family history, I have some ancestry in common with Mark Twain. Maybe that’s where my love of boats, and especially old steamboats, comes from.

What a thrill it was when my Girl Scout troop arranged a short journey up and down the Illinois River on the Julia Belle Swain. Isn’t that a gorgeous name for a steamship? I vividly remember watching that big red paddle wheel rotate slowly into and out of the river, sloshing water up along with it, as I stood on the deck and the city crept by on both sides.

The Julia Belle docked in Peoria back on those days. By the time I graduated high school, she had moved on. I had no idea where she went and chose to believe she was elsewhere instead of other dreaded possibilities.
A boat is like living thing. It seems to have life of its own. And it deserves the respect that comes with that. At least in my mind that’s true.

In the late Eighties, the Julia Belle had been replaced with the Spirit of Peoria (pictured above), which looks much the same. To me, it wasn’t the same. It’s not the steamship I stood on and merged with as we rolled along the murky green river. It doesn’t have that “first time” and “new adventure” feel when I think of it. Still, I’m glad there’s still an old steamship representative in my home town area.

ILRiverinWinter-HawkinsI’ve just found that the Julia Belle is indeed docked somewhere. She’s sitting in Wisconsin and there is a new group trying to raise awareness and work at preserving her. They have plenty of photos on their Facebook Page, so go give it a look! (and maybe a like)

My memory of the Julia Belle and that day excursion were strong enough that I put her into my first novel, Finishing Touches, which is set in my home town area.

NEWS: Finishing Touches will be ten years old in June and I Finishing Touches-ebookplan to have its sequel out by then. If you’d like to read my first novel, which could aptly be defined as Mid-length New Adult with Romantic Elements, I will have it on the front page of my WEBSITE as an instant download upon payment for only $1.10 ($1 for the first book and .10 for 10 years). Choose Epub, Mobi, or PDF to best fit your reading device. This is a secure download through

I have very few prints left of this first edition, but a new edition will include both Finishing Touches and Final Strokes together. I have an incredible idea for the cover, or at least I think it will be incredible. ;-)  The ebook version will remain separate.

You can find the beginning of Finishing Touches on its site, as well as reviews, the book trailer, and the song used at the end.

Stay tuned for more looks into the setting of my debut novel and its soon-to-come sequel.

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